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It's only fair to put 2020 Olympics on hold, says Ireland hockey captain


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Only 53% of the qualification has been completed for this summer's Olympic Games.

Only 53% of the qualification has been completed for this summer's Olympic Games.

PA

Only 53% of the qualification has been completed for this summer's Olympic Games.

Ireland men's hockey captain David Harte is the latest in the growing list of athletes and other stakeholders to back the idea of postponing the Tokyo Olympics until later in 2020 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Kinsale native, who played in the Rio Games in 2016, has an inside track as he sits on the Olympic Federation of Ireland's Athletes' Commission.

Harte was among 220 athlete representatives who took part in a conference call with Olympic chiefs, who have consistently stated that the Tokyo showpiece will go ahead as planned with the opening ceremony scheduled for July 24.

However, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has insisted that "cancellation is not on the agenda" and added that "of course, we are exploring different scenarios".

Last night, he admitted that a postponement was a possible option.

In calling for a postponement, Harte emphasises the fact that athletes across the vast majority of the 33 Olympic sports are unable to prepare properly for Tokyo due to the need for social distancing.

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Ireland men's hockey captain David Harte

Ireland men's hockey captain David Harte

�INPHO/Presseye/Freddie Parkins

Ireland men's hockey captain David Harte

His own sport is a case in point as Ireland's women's hockey players have already had eight of their Olympic warm-up matches cancelled due to the impact of the virus, and the players are training on their own at home.

Harte is also concerned that many of the qualifying events from other sports have been put on hold, with just 53% of the total number of Olympic places allocated.

Harte said: "There's 47% of places at the Olympics that are still up in the air and that was a huge talking point (in the conference call) and an obvious concern for athletes and their representatives from around the world.

"If you look at it in a fair way - which you would hope is what the Olympics stands for - you want an equal playing field for all. Those suffering most from a lockdown have a disadvantage right now compared to athletes who can freely train in their countries.

"I really hope a postponement would be in place to allow proper qualification to take place, to give peace of mind and mental wellness to those still looking to qualify and those who have already qualified."

Belfast Telegraph